Introduction: DIY FPV Racing Drone

Whether it be a car, boat, or plane, piloting all remote controlled vehicles provide a great source of fun and interest. With that said, FPV quad rotor flying is a whole new experience, and building one your self is a whole new fun in itself. For those who do not know, FPV (first person view) flying lets you pilot your vehicle as if you were in the cockpit. Adding FPV to your quad is fairly straight forward and will be discussed in a later step.

In this inscrutable, we will be constructing our very own 250 class racing FPV quad, however the building process is very similar to constructing other multi-rotors. Hopefully by the end of this, you will have a good understanding of how a multi-rotor works, how to build one, and of course have your very own FPV quad.

Lets get into it!

Note: This is my first Instructable post.

Step 1: Components

When building the FPV quad there are two main systems that need to be constructed: the quad-rotor, and the FPV camera streaming system. Each of these systems have components within themselves. Below is the list to what is needed for both systems.

The Quad-Rotor

The FPV System

Other Useful Things...

In the next part of the tutorial, we will begin the building process of the quad.

Step 2: The Electronics and Schematic

Most of the quad building has to do with plugging in wires and soldiering connections, therefore it is important that we know what components go where. The diagram above shows a schematic of the quad and will hopefully aid through the building process. Before we start, it is good to layout the components to make sure that there is enough space for them in the chassis. This will not only stop wires from potentially getting caught, but also improve the cable management of the quad-rotor system. Now lets heat up the soldering iron and begin!

Step 3: The Power Distribution Board

Soldering the Battery Connector

First we are going to want to get the PDB and solder the battery connector to the PDB. If you purchased the same PDB from the list, the battery connector would have been provided (the t-plug), however, some other PDBs do not come with the connector so make sure you purchase the correct kind for your battery (JST, XT60, etc.).

Soldering the ESCs

Once we have the battery connector soldered, we will start to solder the ESCs. Solder the positive end to the positive terminal and same for the negative. Also, make sure that you solder the ESCs in a place where it will be easy to manage cables.

Step 4: Motors

Now that the PDB is all soldered up, we can connect the motor leads to the ESCs.

Motor Orientation

Since we are using the CC3D flight controller, we need to orient the motors in a specific way so when we are setting up the controller, there are no issues. If we recall the quad-rotor schematic from the previous step, if the front facing portion of the quad is the top, then the top-left motor is read as motor 1, top-right as motor 2, bottom-right as motor 3, and bottom-left as motor 4. Also, make sure that your motor 2 and motor 4 are the counter-clock-wise (CCW) motors.

Soldering the Leads

If you purchased bullet connectors then simply solder the components to the motor leads, and the others to the ESCs. If not, just directly solder the motor wires to the ESCs. Later in the build, when we are configuring the flight controller, we may need to de-solder the connections as the motors might spin in the wrong direction, this is why the bullet connectors have an advantage in the configuration phase.

Step 5: The Flight Controller

For this build, the CC3D will be used as the choice of flight controllers. The process is similar if you have another flight controller such as the Naze32, however the wiring will be different. If you are not sure where to plug the connections to, check the pin out diagram for your specific controller.

Wiring the ESCs

Along with the power wires and motor leads, the ESCs provide another cable that enables the flight controller to communicate with the ESCs. The CC3D flight controller has a set of output pins that are label 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. These pins are for connecting the ESCs to the CC3D. If we recall what we labelled our motors (top-left is motor 1, top-right is motor 2, bottom-right is motor 3, and bottom-left is motor 4), simply plug the motor's ESC to the corresponding number on the CC3D (i.e. motor 1 plugs into port 1 on the CC3D). It is also important how which way to connect. The wire will be coloured ORANGE, RED, BROWN, the orange cable is the signal cable and it connects to the left-most port. Repeat this for all of the ESCs.

Connecting the Radio Receiver

The CC3D also includes a group of wires connect to your transmitter. Depending on your reviver, the way you plug the leads to the channels may be different, however generally you configure it the following way:

If the top of the list is Channel 6, then:

  • Signal and PWR

See the image for reference.

Configuring the CC3D

Now that we have the hardware components ready, we can move to the software configuration. For this we will be using a program called LibrePilot (formerly known as OpenPilot). OpenPilot and LibrePilot are basically the same; the only difference is the logo of the two programs. To download go to:

This instructable won't show how to set-up and use the LibrePilot/OpenPilot software as there are plenty of tutorials online, however here is a really in-depth example that will give you a thorough understanding of the software:

Now, FPV time!

Step 6: The FPV

Camera and Video Transmitter

The camera is pretty easily installed; just a few screws and your ready. The camera and transmitter have a connection cable that one end gets plugged into the camera, and the other to the VTx.

Providing Power

The transmitter and camera need 5V to operate, if the battery you purchased has two connections (the t-plug/XT60/etc, and the 5V cable) simply plug the 5V cable to the camera power lead. If your battery does not have this provided, you will need to solder the power wires directly to the PDB - make sure that the terminals you are soldering to are 5V! If not you will need to have a voltage regulator (such as this) and simply solder the camera power to that, and then solder the regulator to the PDB.

Displaying the Video

If you have FPV goggles, then all that is needed is to make sure you are on the same channel as the VTx and that you have power for your goggles. However, in this build instead of using goggles we will be going full DIY and using a TFT monitor and a 5.8 GHz video receiver, and some batteries. Although there are a lot of wires this way, and it doesn't look as clean as having FatShark Dominator goggles, it is also doesn't cost more than the quad itself. To get this system working, simply plug the yellow cable from the video receiver into the yellow lead from the display. To make sure its working, plug the quad battery to the camera and provide power to the display system. If there is no image being displayed, just cycle through the channels on the video receiver until you see the camera stream.

Step 7: Closing

Congratulations! You have just finished building your very own FPV racing quad-rotor! Hopefully throughout the course of this instructable, you learned how a quad-rotor works, the different components that go into it, and how FPV works too. However, before you go out and fly you quad, make sure you are flying it legally: for example, make sure you are in authorized airspace, and follow safety guidelines. Take a look at these links to learn more:

Also, if you are new to RC piloting and drone flying, take your time to familiarize yourself with the controls, movement, and feel of your aircraft. In your first several flights, take it slow and if you start to panic just try and stay as calm as possible. Check out the video by Flite Test on how to fly a quad, and check out their content, it is a great resource for beginners and all.

Thanks for making it all the way through, and have fun!

Make It Fly Contest 2016

Participated in the
Make It Fly Contest 2016